Competition celebrates the colors of diversity through artwork

March 2, 2012

By Christina Lords

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Three Maywood students selected for state PTA Reflections contest

By Michele McKee Rachel McKee (left) and Amit Furman receive district-level recognition for their artwork submitted in the National PTA Reflections Program.

As Rachel McKee was searching for inspiration for an entry for her school’s PTA Reflections art contest, she realized she had to look no further than where she spends a lot of her free time — her select basketball team.

With this year’s theme surrounding what “Diversity Means” to each student, she knew she wanted to represent the sense of camaraderie and togetherness on the team.

She grabbed a camera and some friends from the team and asked them to pose, hand to hand.

“I used a variety of skin colors to show that we can all work together and lend a helping hand,” she said. “Some people believe that if we look different, we are different. I believe we are all the same internally.”

McKee, 12, joins fellow students Amit Furman and Katrina Filer, of Maywood Middle School, to be honored at the district level for artwork they submitted for the National PTA Reflections Program Contest — a more than 40-year old program offered throughout the country to inspire youths to express their creativity and talent in a variety of artistic means.

Their entries will move on to the state competition, McKee said, where they will be judged in Spokane in May for further consideration for the national contest.

Two Liberty High School students, Kate Simmons and Kiera Stevens, were also chosen to compete at the state level.

The 12 Maywood students selected from the pool of the school’s contestants for the district level were Laurie Willoughby, Jyotsna Kuramkote, Filer, Taylor Kaszycki, Ben Poile, McKee, Furman, Brittany Toombs, Mosiana Piutau, Sophia Lindstrom, Kelsie Gardner and Emily Chun.

McKee said she used Photoshop to highlight the diversity of the world we live in.

“My photo reflects a spectrum of colored skin holding each other’s wrists to show that together we are one,” she said. “I chose to put different colors in the background of the photo to reflect that the world is full of color.”

Furman’s interpretation of the theme was a drawing of two contrasting colored hands joining at the thumbs to symbolize togetherness.

She said she painted one hand with cool colors and one hand in warm colors, while the background is actual various skin tones.

The focus is on the contrasting colored hands to show that color shouldn’t matter, Furman said.

“We can all make this world a better place if we looked past the shades we were born with and focused on our inner colors,” she said. “We can learn from each other’s inner differences by not judging from the outside in.”

On the Web

Go to to learn more about the 40-year-old PTA Reflections program.

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